Tuesday, 16 April 2019

May Blossom 2019 ; Positive Changes

  

May Blossom
Work in Progress 

My life is changing constantly and I have to admit writing my book "Paint Yourself Positive" has made me take stock of where I am , what I am doing and where I would like to be. I was convinced I was already there, at a point in my life where I am content with every aspect of my life. But we can all improve our lives no matter our age or circumstances.

I thought about how years ago I would always walk every day and find new treasures, often subjects I had never painted before, and bring them home to my study to create in watercolour. I would set myself challenges from finding the most simplest to the most complex of treasures and set about painting them in a variety of ways in watercolour. Those days stopped because we lost our dog Bailey. Since we lost him I threw myself into touring, teaching, writing and judging. So my personal walks and later even my studio time gradually came bottom of my list on how I spent my time. Now I make time for me. Time to paint for my own personal enjoyment. Discovering new techniques which I intend to share on future workshops, new books and possibly films.

I love giving to others but I am aware that my  workshops can only be successfully enjoyable for me if I constantly grow as an artist. I find it boring to paint the same thing repeatedly, in the same style which has never been my way of working. I want to always believe I am on a journey in learning rather than feel I have reached any destination. I can grow in many ways, as a person and as an artist And I feel so much better now. My life is enriched. I feel my art is too.

We have two new puppies, Teddy and Murphy who are hard work but fun and because of them I am back to walking in different places daily finding new things to paint. Today the treasure I brought back to my studio was May Blossom. If I take the puppies on an interesting enough walk they sleep in my studio while I am painting. Which is bliss. This mornings' walk saw me carry a tiny sprig of May Blossom back to my studio and I created the first small study painting seen below with the sprig sat in the centre of the piece. Beneath this image you can see my painting minus the sprig of blossom.

 
 May Blossom painting with the real flower on top to study form and gain ideas for future brushwork



Study of May Blossom, without the real flower on top.


I,as always, enjoyed painting the small piece so much that I instantly created a large wash to act as a background for my detailed flowers. The larger piece is far more adventurous but feels as though it carries more freedom as I have room on the larger piece of paper to express myself. I don't use masking fluid but I have used white gouache on the piece to gain back some of the white blossoms. To create the sense of the real thing I took my puppies back to where the real flowers were this afternoon and sat admiring them , looking up at the heavily laden branches carrying small white flowers. Learning from nature that not all the flowers were perfect. Some had only one or two petals as the wind had knocked the delicate pieces off. Some were odd shapes, others connected to bigger clumps of small blooms. The sky behind the blossom varied in colour due to moving clouds. The branches also were a variety of colours from grey to reddish brown. I learnt so much just by sitting still. And that is also something I am learning to do. Sit still and observe. We race around in this life, often being constantly busy as though that is the right means of fulfilling each day. When the opposite can be said to be true.Quality time being quiet, observing, taking in nature and admiring its' beauty can do so much to enrich our souls and feed our artists inner needs.


 



I am so ready to continue to work on this piece.

Artists tip for the day?

Sit still now and then, but looking at something you can paint in future while you rest.
At these times. look for colour, formations, shadow and light effects always.
Find new treasure to paint as often as possible.
Don't always opt for something easy, push yourself on new adventures attempting to create more complex subjects .
Don't be afraid, we are only working on paper and our mistakes teach us how to grow as artists.

Basically, enjoy life and painting at every opportunity.

I do!

 




Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Shining a Light ; Pussy Willow in Watercolour



Pussy Willow in Watercolour

I am having a blast in my studio. Our new puppies are peacefully sleeping at my feet and the short walks I take them on each day are leading me to see nature at its' best. Right now the country lanes are adorned with catkins and pussy willow. Both favourite subjects of mine to paint.

The pussy willow always has been a subject that appeals to me. As a child I loved touching its' soft fluffy buds. I loved how my step mum would always arrange them with bright yellow daffodils in a vase in our home to cheer the room especially on grey days when it was raining, which it often did in Wales where I grew up. Maybe that is why I often avoid using grey shades, I saw too many as a child as in grey skies.

But back to my painting today and as you can see I am happily back sharing on my blog again.

The above piece was created after I played with a small study first as an experiment. I have used Daniel Smith Walnut ink for the dark central area to set off my soft pussy willow buds. I can't wait to complete this but it has to dry before I work further on it. Rather than waste time I began a second wash so the two paintings sit side by side on my easel waiting for the finishing brush work to be added.

It is so exciting painting something you love but challenging yourself at the same time to paint it differently from the year before. And better.


Side by side. Two pussy willow paintings waiting for the next finishing touches to be added.

Once I start painting I almost feel as though a light has been turned on in my soul. Something magical happens in that I feel energised, invigorated and eager to create beauty  with my brushes.
Oh how I love Spring. How I love working in watercolour and how I love life.

If only we could have 48 hour days and ten day week  so that I could fit more in !

Happy painting!


Second painting of pussy willow waiting to be developed. 


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No artists tip today other than suggesting you go for a walk anywhere to discover something that tugs at your heart strings to paint it.

Don't paint the same thing every day as that can sometimes crush your artists'  soul.  Keep it alive , refreshed and excited at the prospect of painting and as often as possible

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Friday, 29 March 2019

Spring to it!



 Daffodils in watercolour
 Work in progress

Daffodils are hard to paint so many people have told me but I love painting them.  Maybe its' because I am from Wales and they are the Welsh National Flower. I grew up surrounded by them every spring and their gorgeous bright yellow hues would always make me feel instantly cheerful. But going back to those dreaded words.

"Hard to paint"

Isn't everything hard to paint when we first take up painting? Especially as adults. Ask a child to paint anything and it never occurs to them that they can't, they just do it and love creating.  We need to completely lose the fear of approaching new subjects. In fact I strongly believe that painting subjects that we do find difficult , often and regularly, improves our skill as artists. And so what if your painting goes in the bin ( trash can to my American friends!) .  It is only by attempting a difficult task that the task in hand can be overcome and seen as being easier. The more you practise the less daunting the task becomes. In fact, over time, it can become something that no longer holds fear.

I love a challenge. I love painting things that are new to me and I love painting things that I am familiar with. Like daffodils. I paint them every year but each time I do I attempt to improve on the ones I painted the year before. I am on a journey in art, learning and loving the road every step of the way.

So here I am in 2019 painting my first daffodils of the year and I am so happy. I am aiming to keep the petals papery thin and delicate.

Here are two paintings as works in progress side by side on my easel.


Two daffodil paintings, each guiding me on what to add next on the other..

I usually work in threes, as in three paintings being on the go at any one time. I find I learn from each. Above the painting on the right was my first daffodil piece, the second seen on the left to me is far better. I can see it needs detail but the start is softer because  I was more relaxed on the second piece having got into the " mood" or quiet painting zone from warming up on the first painting. This happens. I often need to get my mind calm to really create something beautiful and with such a busy life sometimes I need to get everything out of my system on the first piece to really get stuck into my work.


I'm finding Daniel Smith Azo Yellow perfect as a shade for painting these spring flowers. It is'vibrant, can be used translucently and looks gorgeous in sunlight too, just like the real flowers.

Seen below is a close up of one of the daffodils with detail beginning to be added.


Single daffodil with detail added


Artists tips

1) Never be put off painting a subject, new challenges stretch us and improve our observation and painting skills.

2) Try painting a rough study for fun before attempting a more serious piece as this helps us get into a great quiet painting zone.

3) Do enjoy each season looking for subjects that may only be temporarily available to paint from life

4) Paint from life as much as possible! I see blues, violets and golds in each petal when I study a real daffodil flower and yet when I look quickly at them I only see bright yellow!

Have fun, relax and enjoy painting. Otherwise your painting time can become stressful which to me defeats the whole point of painting!


Happy painting!

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Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Seeing the Light , Paint Yourself Positive. I am back!


"Seeing the Light"
From my new book "Paint Yourself Positive" which will be out in May 2019
Available to pre order from Amazon.com
Watch out for the limited edition hardback copy. 


Well that wasn't the way I expected to start 2019 but here I am at last back writing on my blog and now I feel as though I will never catch up as I have so much to share but I have not been able to get on my blog until today. 

Firstly. My Health. I am now only seeing one specialist, the cardiologist and I have been wearing a monitor that is directly linked to the hospital in case of any more " hiccups". I'm glad to say there has only been a small blip and so far I feel much better. I am completely rested because we went to St Lucia for a two week break , my specialist thought it would be a good move for me to rest in the sun and I feel brilliant again.  But not quite up to teaching just yet. Small steps! 

Now I must say the biggest thank you to everyone who has been so kind writing to me and replying here, concerned about me and how I am doing. You really made such a huge difference to me. Hearing everyone telling me to take it easy helped so much. I genuinely was so heartbroken to have had to cancel my tour and that added stress on top of my feeling unwell. I seriously hate letting anyone down.

I have been sensible and cleared my tour diary for this year. I think its' wiser to get better to a point of being 100% well enough to give my all when I teach, as I always do. I can't give workshops that are not 100% full of energising tips ans ideas. Its impossible for me to do anything by half measures and I have a very high teaching standard ethos that I love working to. So I will work on a schedule for 2020 that is really special full of new colours, techniques and ways to be inspired by working in watercolour. News o fthese wil be shared later this year.

The other thing that has helped me so much is reading my new book. "Paint Yourself Positive" launching this year. I had no idea when I wrote it that I would be the one needing it. I have had to think positively to get through the ups and downs of the last few months. I have had to believe that nothing serious was wrong with me and that I will be back teaching in the future. This is simply a temporary blip and it is giving me the much needed time to work on a completely new workshop programme. Don't worry, it won't be chnaged in format but it will be even better. I have thrived on hearing artists on my courses telling me they have never felt so stimulated in all their lives. Its' been so much fun that I intend to continue.

For now though?

Well I must share photos but we have two new members of our family. Bentley and Teddy, two tiny puppies who are growing every day. They are Australian labradoodles and are so good for my soul. I laugh each day watching their antics and I have no end of people asking to puppy sit if I travel That won't be for a little while but they will be in safe hands when I do.

So, now back to painting and wow how can I share with so much to choose from.

I will be back on my blog regularly from here in so please watch this space and thank you so much for waiting for me to return!

Happy painting

Jean

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Health and workshop update

Colour Blast 2019

USA 2019 Spring Tour Cancelled

Ironically my last blog post was titled " We can't always have what we want" and now I can't. Because right now I should be judging the New England Art Society exhibition in Boston followed by workshops there and further courses in two California locations including the California Watercolor Association.  But sadly I have had to cancel everything on this trip due to health hiccups. 

I am so sorry to disappoint everyone who had booked my courses but my health took a serious and completely unexpected turn.  I am seeing specialists. To say I am heart broken is an understatement as I have to date never had to cancel any of my courses apart from when I famously broke my ankle whilst teaching in Australia. There I tried to persuade the surgeon that if he patched me up I only had two days teaching to go after which I would happily return to the hospital and  have the obviously needed operation. Even then, with my determination strongly working I did teach the next courses which were in UK albeit in a wheel chair with my foot elevated, rather than let anyone down. To date I have never let anyone down if I can help it.

Now the situation is out of my hands and I must follow advise.

As my family and friends keep telling me  "Health has to come first" which is hard for me as my artists on my workshops have always come first in my career. Their pleasure, enjoyment and happiness is always all that has mattered to me and it is why I love teaching so much.

It should be a few months before I can make future plans.

For now I am resting, following doctors orders and painting quietly in my studio.

This is not how I saw 2019 starting. But hopefully the rest of the year is going to be brilliant.

I have been in touch with all the workshop hosts and locations. But to everyone who has missed out on this trip I really am so very sorry. Believe me, if I could have come I would have!



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Wednesday, 16 January 2019

We Can't Always have What We Want

 Snowdrops forming created by using a negative edge technique to place the flowers on an initial first wash. A work in progress, first stages of a painting.

We can't always have what we want, when we want it. And so we need to learn to adapt , wait patiently and enjoy whatever it was we yearned for when it finally arrives, if it ever does. In my case at the moment my wish is to see snowdrops in my garden before I leave for USA and my next workshops there at the end of this month. It isn't a huge wish. It isn't incredibly important. But to me it would mean the world if they could just bloom now. I love painting from life and I want to paint them in my garden in their natural settings. But as they are not appearing just yet I am having to use a collection of my own photographs, past paintings and my imagination to work from to create. Which probably isn't a bad thing because this way my colour choices and techniques to act as backgrounds will probably be far more innovative. As seen above in a close up of my latest snowdrop painting.

I started today by painting on fresh white paper. Two beautiful clean washes emerged with white space to add my snowdrops. They looked......... actually they look perfect but something is missing from them. A sense of excitement I feel. They look almost wooden and pre sketched with absolutely no movement. I looked at them on my easel, these first snowdrop paintings and considered all that I didn't like about them. They could easily be replicated. They looked preplanned to the point of being dull. I'd left no room for spontaneous additions of  further flowers. They actually looked "predictable" in that millions of exact same paintings could be around all over the universe.

Which led me to look at a few exciting washes I had already that had not been paintedon,  to act as backgrounds, and I found one that was perfect for this adventure in creating.

Now my heart was beating familiarly. I was excited at what could happen next. I easily saw where my first snowdrop flowers could be placed on the wash and then I sensed the familiar oak leaves at their base from my garden scenes last year. There is movement, life and positive energy in this piece and hints of the cold weather that is here in UK at this time of year.

It thrills me.

I can't wait to work further on this piece. It is far more enjoyable and it really has been inspired by my reading my own book " Atmospheric Flowers in Watercolour" . In this flower book I offer ideas on how to create white subjects and how to make your flower paintings more interesting. I listened to my words in the book and painted from my heart which now feels far more alive!

Below you can see the whole painting as a work in progress so far.


"Snowdrop Heaven"
A work in progress.


Artists Tip for the day

Do you feel your work is becoming predictable? As in are you painting the same subjects in exactly the same way with the same techniques and colours each day? If it is, are you happy? If not how are you going to change your art?

It is a new year. Now is the time to really go for gold if you want to have fun and feel stimulated when you paint. Which in turn should lead you to fabulous unique results.

So here is a challenge.

Look back to something you painted last year and paint it now in a completely different way using new colours and techniques. Then compare the two paintings and see which you prefer!

Stretch yourself and find the inner artist that may be lurking screaming to get out!


Create!


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Sunday, 13 January 2019

Stan and Ollie : The Movie

 Stan and Ollie 
Five minute impression

Last night John and I went to see the movie " Stan and Ollie", which tells the story of Laurel and Hardy, legends in the world of comedy.

All day today I have heard the tune they danced to in my mind, and  I have smiled every single time. But it wasn't the movie that touched my heart so much as the memories it brought flooding back of my father. My Dad worked so hard, like many, to feed his family and make sure we had a roof over our heads and food on the table. Ours was not a grand house but it was spotlessly clean and my stepmother was so proud of it. She had come from a family of thirteen who were mainly male and all miners. Times were hard and there was so little to laugh at back then but laugh they did. 

Dad used to love watching this pair of comedians. He would sit laughing until tears rolled down his face. In fact at times I thought he was about to have a heart attack, so strong was his laughter and his holding of his sides as he did so. I remember not understanding the humour as I didn't " get it". I honestly didn't at the time. But this week I was fascinated by the idea of learning about the men who made so many people laugh out loud.  Which led to us as a couple to be sat in the movies watching the film last night.

I found the film very slow in places. I felt sorry for how these wonderful men were treated at times. But I watched and found myself holding back tears at the very end of the film. It was so moving. The friendship, strong sense of companionship, compassion, understanding and road these men travelled throughout their career was touching. And it makes you wonder, how many people did they make laugh in their life times?  During times when people desperately needed to laugh.

I " 'get it" now. Completely.

And if my Dad is looking down I would love him to know I do.

I found myself grabbing a small scrap of paper this afternoon as I closed my studio painting session. I mixed a few skin tones very hastily using Alizarin Crimson and Yellow Ochre to begin and started to place two face shapes in blocks of colour on paper. When I create faces in watercolour in this way with no preliminary pencil sketch it really is a situation where a face appears or it doesn't. Its' almost a spiritual experience and I wasn't surprised when Ollie started to make an early appearance. Laurel seemed to like him taking over until his own smile appeared.

Side by side this incredible pair led an interesting life. I hope they knew how much they were loved and how much joy they brought into the world. My early stages of their faces I didn't capture on camera as I only had my Ipad to hand. These last few stages show how the painting of  Laurel and Hardy is forming. I like the stage below best of all.They are almost there but not quite.

 I couldn't resist sharing.

This ones for you Dad, you'd have loved the film!


Stan and Ollie first wash,
Essence of a duo.